At the beginning of January, most of us have a list of New Year’s resolutions. It feels good to start the year with all the things we would like to do differently this time. After a few days of indulging ourselves to good food and wine, losing weight and gym memberships usually feature in the top 5 list together with the aspiration of getting a new job and that hobby we always wanted to start but never had time for it. By the end of the month, this determination has faded. We are back to ‘our norm’ and most of the resolutions are forgotten until same time next year.
Have you ever had this experience?
I used to do exactly what I described above until 10 years ago. Then I decided to stop having New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I started having Objectives for the Year.
And yes, there is a difference (subtle but significant).
According to Collins Dictionary, if you make a New Year’s resolution, you make a decision at the beginning of a year to start doing something or to stop doing something whereas, an objective is what we are trying to achieve. In other words, resolutions indicate strong willingness and they are usually over-stretched goals; objectives though have the end result in mind and they are realistic.
People in the corporate world are pretty used to have objectives. They are defined after careful consideration of what is vital to achieve by the end of the year. They represent the key priorities in order to be successful and you commit yourself in achieving them. They are usually between 3-5 (More than 5 becomes a to do list – not a priority list – and the focus gets diluted).
A similar concept can be applied to both our personal and professional life.
Going to the gym used to be a regular New Year’s resolution for me. Many friends and family had tried to convince me about the benefits of regular exercise for years with limited success. Then one day, while I was about to take a flight, a couple in their 60s sat next to me. They look neat, thin and healthy. When we landed, they had to be escorted with wheelchairs. Then, I made a connection in my mind; I want to be fit in order to be mobile when I am old. Being fit became a priority for me at that moment. Since then it appears on every year’s Objectives. (I still don’t go to the gym – I prefer jogging. Finding the ‘what’ is usually more difficult that the ‘how’.)
A few tips in case you would like to do this exercise:
- Think holistically; Consider having objectives about:
- Relationships and
- Phrase them in a way that encourages you to achieve them (e.g. as broad or as specific as you want them to be)
- It is always more fun when you do this exercise with a friend
- Keep a copy of your objectives somewhere handy as a reminder ( I have photo of them in my phone)
Review your objectives after two or three months. If you haven’t done much on a couple of them, think again whether they are still important for you. If yes, keep them on the list and do something about them. If not, just remove them or replace them. It is important that they are still reflect your priorities and they are pragmatic.
The bottom line: Remember, it is you who decides to have these objectives in the first place because you believe they can help you become a better version of yourself. If they are important for you, you will find time to do something about them.
Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She passionately believes in empowering people to make informed decisions about their career and their finances. She is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her limited spare time, she wants to join forces with others to help everybody to be a better version of themselves.